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It was never just a Slack: How Charlie Ward built Weekend Club

April 21, 2021
Rosie Sherry
Community Lead
It was never just a Slack: How Charlie Ward built Weekend Club
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

Each week we go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. We share tactics, trends and valuable resources we've observed in the world of community building.

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As part of Community Built, Patrick and I had the opportunity to dive into a live discussion on how Charlie built Weekend Club, an online co-working community for indie hackers.

It was our first time using Discord Stage, the newly available 'audio room' feature from Discord. The whole user experience was pretty smooth. It's exciting to see how we can continue building conversations and community within our Discord community.

What is Weekend Club?

The idea of Weekend Club stemmed from Indie Beers, a London and pub based meetup for indie hackers. After hosting the monthly meetup for several months and developing some strong relationships Charlie was encouraged by another member to start in real life coworking sessions. He decided to give it a go.

This is when Weekend Club was born.

As an indie hacker, Charlie felt it made more sense to host this on the weekends — weekday evenings felt too complicated and tiresome for most people who had day jobs. Also, doing them during the day in the week would most likely not attract an indie crowd.

What were the keys to getting the community off the ground?

Charlie is very much a person of 'do things that don't scale' and keeping it real. There was no big growth plan. As all good community builders, in my humble rosie opinion, he took things step by step, looking for and appreciating the growth at all stages.

Building upon the trust and relationships he had built at his Indie Beers meetup, Charlie got his initial traction by:

- sharing his project with Indie Beers members

- sharing updates on Twitter

- participating and sharing all his progress on his Indie Hackers product page

- further down the line he also took over Indie London, another indie focused meetup group

- when he launched an Americas timezone-friendly session he also launched on Product Hunt.

By March 2020 he had his first 16 customers and had reached $500 MRR.

We all know Covid happened next. At this stage he chose to pivot to being all online, but crucially keeping the philosophy of weekend sessions, collaborating, and community as core to their culture.

What's the tech stack is being used to build Weekend Club?

Slack is the main hub of Weekend Club now. Though a crucial point that Charlie pointed out, is that "it was never just a Slack". The focus is still very much on the philosophy of what Weekend Club was meant to be: a way to come together, create friendships whilst also working on a business.

This is the full community tech stack for Weekend Club:

- Slack and Zoom to run the community

- Unicorn for landing page builder

- Stripe & Checkout Page to collect payments

- for drip emails

- Notion for community FAQs/member directory etc

- Zapier / Tray for automations (e.g. messaging me when I get new signups)

- Catchup for member introductions

- Peers for member streaks in Slack (no public website yet)

- Simple Poll for polls in Slack

- Woolfie for playing werewolf 🐺

- Whimsical for making user flows and prototypes

Community building tactics that worked

Charlie has been great at tuning into the needs of his community. Much of this comes down to listening to what people are suggesting and being intentional to the longer term vision of Weekend Club.

Some examples include:

- the Saturday working sessions are the heart of the community

- hiring community members to help host Saturday sessions

- encouraging people to connect to each other rather than him, on Saturdays and virtually through Catchup

- creating user suggested Slack channels, the 'Struggle Bus' is a much loved and great example of this

- embracing community suggested emojis, especially 'wins', 'memes' and the 'struggle bus'

- creating weekly discussions to pull people into conversations: 'What are you working on?' is a typical example of this

- be good to your people and they will help you in return: the majority of their growth comes from word of mouth

Where is Weekend Club heading?

As a bootstrapped business it is generating $2k MRR, which is not enough for Charlie to live on. He's currently contracting as a day job to make up the difference.

For 2021 the hope is to reach $5k MRR by the end of the year. This provides a strong and reliable foundation for Charlie to consider going full time and being able to consider increasing his offerings.

🤞 There's also hope for returning to being an in person community again.

Join us for our next Community Built discussion

Sarah Nöckel from FemStreet will be joining us on Thursday 29th of April at 10am PST - RSVP

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